Seattle Polestar Memorial Concert

Join a special gathering of Seattle creative musicians to celebrate the life and artistry of Matthew Sperry, whose special and influential life was cut short last June 5 when he was hit by a truck as he rode his bicycle to work from his home in Oakland, California. An improvising and composing double bassist, concert organizer, and all-around vital presence in Seattle adventurous music for many years, Matt had moved to Oakland in 1999 with his partner Stacia Biltekoff. He is survived by Stacia and their daughter, Lila Simone, who was born after their move to Oakland.

This memorial concert is organized by Seattle trombonist and UW Professor Emeritus Stuart Dempster. It features Stuart, Tom Baker, dancer Sheri Cohen, Christian Asplund (now teaching at BYU), Wally Shoup, Ian Rashkin, Lori Goldston, Susie Kozawa, Greg Campbell, David Knott, and many others with connections to Matt. At midnight we’ll tune in KEXP 90.3 FM to listen to a Sonarchy broadcast (engineered by Doug Haire of Jack Straw Productions), which will feature David Knott conducting a large ensemble in works dedicated to Matt’s memory.

Your $5 at the door will help pay for the refreshments we’ll provide for the evening.

For more information on Matt, visit the following sites:

Here is the order of the evening’s performances:

8:00 set

What Remains: a requiem/concerto for guitar (2004)
Tom Baker
What Remains is my most recent work for fretless guitar. It is in some ways a requiem and in some ways a concerto. The guitar is the solo instrument with the pre-recorded sounds acting as the orchestra. All the recorded sounds are samples from various recordings of Matthew Sperry. These samples are manipulated and re-composed to create a sonic backdrop and interactive partner for the solo guitar. The work is in seven movements, relating to seven different parts of the traditional requiem mass. It is dedicated to the memory of Matthew Sperry.

9:15 set

Me More Real (2004)
Stuart Dempster – didjeridu, temple bell
Me More Real is a recognition that through loss we can become – “more real”. Me More Real is intended as a healing meditation, and an enticement to explore our inner selves.

The Beauty of Unfamiliar Things
Sheri Cohen – movement, with music by Matthew Sperry
I was privileged to improvise with Matthew Sperry on many occasions. He created music for my trio dance “Moise Pipick Variations” in 1996. I learned from Matt about the beauty of unfamiliar things. He was a sweet, attentive, challenging friend.
Ian Rashkin – performed by a string group TBA
Though we weren’t close, Matt and I worked together on numerous occasions and I had a great deal of respect and affection for him as a person and as a bassist. After the shock of his passing set in, I had to write this piece just for myself as a way to try and express both the kind of beauty I saw in his life and the hollow spot left in the world by his demise; I am honored now to be able to share this memory of him with all the rest of you who miss his beautiful personality and his provocative and evocative musicianship. We were lucky to have known him.

Improv duo by Lori Goldston and Susie Kozawa
Lori Goldston – cello; Susie Kozawa – found instruments

10:30 set

Christian Asplund
Christian Asplund – harmonium and viola; Tom Baker – fretless guitar; Stuart Dempster – trombone and didjeridu; Greg Campbell – drums; various others on instruments and voice
My lament was written for me to play with harmonium drones and viola, but I added guitar in the second half and had some light percussion throughout. It works with any number of players, some on the drone and others joining in on the melody in the second half.

Joyful Mourn
Wally Shoup – alto saxophone
Wally is a long-time free improvisor, painter, and saxophonist. He and Matt collaborated for several years on the Other Sounds music series (1996-98) at the Speakeasy Cafe.

Construction 1
Christian Asplund with Ian Rashkin
One piece of mine that evokes Matt’s memory for me is “First Construction” from the Brainstun 2 CD recently released on Present Sounds Recordings.

Matthew, Can You Sperry Me Again? (2003)
Stuart Dempster – trombone, followed by an assemblage of several peformers
Dedicated to the memory of bassist extraordinaire Matthew Sperry
Score: Allow Matthew Sperry, and his memory, to process soundly through the performer(s).

Matthew, Can You Sperry Me Again? was composed as a result of the untimely death of Matthew Sperry. His death has affected me deeply; it is as though he chose to inhabit my body and mind. There was an immediate change in my playing and performing, my trombone practice seeming to offer significant meditations on, or with, Matt. I was particularly aware of this on the earliest days after his death, but during that entire week I was influenced by his presence. During my 15 June performance at Seattle’s CoCA (Center on Contemporary Art), I performed a small dedication piece for Matthew with my garden hose resonating in the resident (Gust Burns’s) piano. Matt, however, was not in the least bit finished with me. Therefore, I announced a continuation of the dedication mode, and launched into a set wherein Matt was either standing at my side or residing in my head. It was as though Matt was processing right through me and, thus, the score. For further insight with regard to the development of this score, see my complete 13 June 2003 journal note at

12:00 set

Sonarchy radio broadcast led by David Knott
Midnight – 1 AM, KEXP 90.3 FM Seattle, streamed live at

First half of broadcast:
Metaphone Sounding – a large ensemble of bowed string players adapt a low voltage circuit approach to their instruments to create dense, sparkling electroacoustic sound clusters.

Second half of broadcast:
The Nest and the Rest – by directing the players’ attention to various details about their environment and their acoustic instruments, this text score serves as a ground for the ensemble to explore inter- and intra-musical relationships with varieties of sound and silence.

Stuart Dempster–Sound Gatherer–trombonist, didjeriduist, et al, Guggenheim Fellow, and Professor Emeritus at the University of Washington. As a leader in development of trombone technique and performance, he published “The Modern Trombone”in 1979. Recordings include Anomalous, Columbia (Sony), Nonesuch, Sparkling Beatnik, and on New Albion his “Abbey” and “Cistern Chapel” recordings have become cult classics. Besides playing Internet performances in Cathedral Band, he is also a founding member of Deep Listening Band. Dempster also soothes aches, pains, and psychic sores with his meditative and playful Sound Massage Parlor.

Tom Baker has been active as a composer, performer and music producer in the Seattle new-music scene since arriving in 1994. His works have been performed throughout the United States, in Canada and in Europe. Tom has appeared as guest conductor for the Seattle Creative Orchestra and has served as composer-in-residence for the a cappella vocal ensemble The Esoterics. As the artistic director and curator of the new-music concert series, the Seattle Composers Salon, he is dedicated to producing and promoting the new and adventurous music which is being created in the Pacific Northwest. Tom is also the co-director of the Seattle EXperimental Opera (SEXO) and a co-founder of the new-music recording label Present Sounds. He has received awards and grants from several organizations including the Meet The Composer, the Jack Straw Foundation, the Washington State Arts Commission, Artist Trust, the Seattle Arts Commission and the King County Arts Commission. For the past several years, Tom has been performing on the fretless guitar, and his first solo CD Sounding the Curve was released in October 2004. This CD features all new music for fretless electric guitar, fretless classical guitar, and fretless 12-string guitar. Tom will be touring in the western U.S. this year, and appearing on the Nuit De La Fretless (Night of the Fretless) Festival in France in the Fall.

A true crossover artist, Chrstian Asplund’s music is informed by diverse influences in Euro-American classical music, jazz, hip-hop, non-western musics, and by his idiosyncratic religious and political views. in 1994 he was one of the founders of Seattle Experimental Opera (SEXO), one of the pioneers of guerilla opera. Asplund’s 100+ compositions include pieces in virtually every medium of concert music and jazz. He currently divides his time between composition, improvisation, and teaching at Brigham Young University.

Sheri Cohen is a choreographer, teacher and performer based in Seattle. Sheri’s dance-making has won several awards, fellowships and commissions, and her dances have been performed in the U.S., Hungary, France, Germany and The Netherlands. The Seattle Weekly describes her as, “one of the most gorgeous movers around – liquid, precise, nuanced, and highly original.” Sheri has been teaching dance, composition, and creativity through movement to diverse students since 1992 in Seattle and at dance institutions nationwide. She is a Guild Certified Practitioner of the Feldenkrais Method and a teacher of hatha yoga.

Ian Rashkin has composed numerous works for concert, theater, and the occasional film, and has played bass in rock, jazz, orchestral, and other groups for about 20 years. He currently plays bass in the experimental rock-folk-country-punk band BABY and periodically with cabaret songwriter David Russell. His compositions for mixed instruments accompanying traditional Korean vocal recordings will be released by Synnara Records in June 2004.

David Knott is a board-certified music therapist, instrument builder, and composing improvisor living and working in Seattle. He specializes in using clinical improvisation to facilitate therapeutic change with critically ill adults and children with special needs. Inspired by flamenco guitarist Carlos Montoya and Jimi Hendrix, he started playing guitar in 1981 and later studied jazz and classical guitar in college. Having access to his grandfather’s salvage yard provided a host of opportunities for creative soundmaking and exploration. A three year tour in the US Army as a truck driver provided an opportunity to live in Tongduchon, Republic of Korea and a college fund to finish school. David moved to Seattle in October of 1991 and began improvising with musicians and non-musicians alike. This playful work refined his interest in instrument making and ultimately sent him back to school to study luthiery at the Roberto-Venn School of Luthiery in Phoenix, AZ (1994) and to Willamette University to study music therapy (1997-99).

After the successful completion of Music Therapy coursework at Willamette University, David returned to Seattle and found employment as a Rehabilitation Specialist working with a brain injured artist. The present day finds him working at Children’s Hospital and Regional Medical Center, the Bailey-Boushay House and MusicWorks Northwest, a community music school located in Bellevue, WA.
Since 1982, David has been playing and recording his own music solo and in collaboration with others. His interest in music and soundmaking comes from a personal, intuitive response to vibration. With instrument building, performances, workshops and recorded works, he seeks to stimulate the listener to a point of resonance and discovery of their own musical being. A debut solo CD “Natura Naturans”, featuring his stringboard instruments, has been released on Anomalous Records. He is a founding member of animist orchestra – an ensemble that uses natural materials to create very quiet, subtly evolving soundscapes. Additionally, he has made interactive installations in public and private settings which seek to provide participants with opportunities to realize kinesthetic expressions in sound and promote deeper listening. His solo CD and the animist orchestra CD are available at Anomalous Records.

Since moving to Seattle in 1985, saxophonist Wally Shoup has been a central figure in the improvisational world. He performed with the New Art Orchestra and Catabatics, and took part in the first Seattle Improvised Music Festival. Since that time, he has helped guide that festival to its present-day status as the longest running free-improvisation festival in North America.

A compelling and original saxophonist, Wally is featured in the Encyclopedia of Northwest Music, which notes his ability to “draw crowds from diverse audiences due to his fierce intensity and explorative saxophone performances.” He formed Project W in 1994 with cellist Brent Arnold and percussionist Ed Pias, releasing the recording Project W (Apraxia) in 1996 (named a top-ten release in Cadence) and the LP Obliquity (Shrat), which documented their opening set for Sonic Youth in 1998.

His alliance with Thurston Moore (of Sonic Youth) has yielded two recordings: the highly praised Hurricane Floyd (Subliminal) in 2000 and the 2003 Leo Records release Live at Tonic (w/Paul Flaherty and Chris Corsano). Shoup formed the Wally Shoup Trio in 2001 with bassist Reuben Radding and drummer Bob Rees. The group has played to great acclaim in Seattle and has recently released a critically acclaimed recording, Fusillades and Lamentation, also on London-based Leo Records.

Additionally, Wally is a painter of repute in “Outsider Art” circles and is represented in Seattle by the Garde-Rail Gallery ( His textural, expressive art merges the sophisticated with the primitive in much the same way as his music, and his art graces a number of his record releases.

Lori Goldston received her music training on Long Island and at Bennington College, including studies of classical cello, jazz and folk guitar, percussion, and improvisation. She has lived and performed in Seattle since 1986. Current projects include recording a third album by the Black Cat Orchestra (which she founded in 1991 with Kyle Hanson), the Dunya Turkish Music Trio (with Kane Mathis and Jane Hall), a puppet show about historic disasters of the Pacific Northwest (with Kyle Hanson, Curtis Taylor and Eve Cohen), and ongoing collaborations with Elizabeth Falconer, Greg Campbell, Robert Jenkins, and many others.

Susie Kozawa is a composer and sound artist. She is interested in how sound moves and dances in a space. Her compositions have been mostly sound collages and site-specific installations, in which the gathering of sounds is a primary activity. She explores different acoustic spaces using musical instruments she has made out of found objects, kelp, and modified toys. She is a past Seattle Arts Commission Individual Artist award and Artist Trust GAP Award recipient. She was also awarded an Artist Trust/Washington State Arts Commission Fellowship in Theater. Her work has been presented at Bumbershoot, the New Music Across America Festival, the Center on Contemporary Art, Empty Space Theatre, On the Boards, the Goodwill Arts Festival, Soundwork Northwest, Henry Art Gallery, Seattle Asian Art Museum, the downtown Seattle Art Museum, and at the Seattle Aquarium. She had been a Ford Foundation Collaborating Artist with the Northwest Asian American Theatre International Artist Collaboration Project. She collaborated with the Crispin Spaeth Dance Group for the Composer/Choreographer IV Series produced by Gamelan Pacifica, and has been a collaborating artist with Jack Straw Audio Center and graphic artist Jesse Minkert working on an audience interactive multimedia project through a Seattle Arts Commission Diverse Works grant. She has also collaborated with Choreographer A.C. Peterson and Set Designer Erin Palmer on House of Dames production of “Silk Road” presented in the Fall of 1999.


Polestar Music Gallery
1412 18th Avenue (at East Union)
Seattle WA 98122 USA
(206) 329-4224

Dedicated to presenting adventurous and experimental musics in a simple concert setting, Polestar Music Gallery is a small, volunteer-run, not-for-profit concert venue in a renovated storefront in Seattle’s Central District. All ages, no alcohol, no café. Electroacoustic and electronic music, free improvisation, installations, noise, post-classical composition, out jazz, sound art, workshops, and more. The great majority of admission fees at the door go to the performing musicians; the rest goes toward keeping that door open. Polestar was launched in May 2002 and has since presented more than 180 shows by artists from British Columbia, England, France, Germany, Holland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, Norway, Quebec, and Switzerland – and in this country from Baltimore, Bellingham, Birmingham, Boston, Boulder, Chicago, Los Angeles, the Mojave Desert, New Jersey, New York, Oakland, Olympia, Philadelphia, Portland, Provo, Salt Lake City, San Diego, San Francisco, and the Seattle area.